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A yew tree whose bark is a natural source of anticancer drugs, may be the source of a new drug for cancer. The idea of using yaw's bark in anticancer therapy is not new, but till now, it was extracted via environmentally damaging and expensive processes. These days researchers succeeded to extract stem cells of the yaw tree, which allows to cheaply and sustainably produce anticancer drugs.
The development may enable the compound to be produced in industrial quantities and with no harmful by-products.
The stem cells, which are self-renewing tree cells, will be manipulated in growing and producing he necessary compound. This method would be far more cheaper than the traditional methods, where the mature trees were used and it had significant damage on the environment.
The idea of using stem cells to manipulate plants' cells and extract useful compounds is not new. Researchers say that it is not only the yaw tree whose stems can be used, but any plant. The study was published in Nature Biotechnology and supported by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.
Professor Gary Loake, of the University of Edinburgh's School of Biological Sciences, who led/took part in the study, said: "Plants are a rich source of medicine - around one in four drugs in use today is derived from plants. Our findings could deliver a low-cost, clean and safe way to harness the healing power of plants, potentially helping to treat cancer, and other condition"
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